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Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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The Summer Movie Posse: How did their predictions pan out?

August 19, 2010 | 11:57 am

Michael_cera At this time of year, people always ask me--so how did your teenagers' movie picks turn out? If you're new to this blog, at the beginning of each summer I recruit a bunch of kids who see a lot of movies, show them the trailers for a dozen or so upcoming films and let them grade the movies based on whether the trailers made them want to see them or not.

It's a highly unscientific procedure, but the kids--whom I call the Summer Movie Posse--are always filled with strong opinions, interesting likes and dislikes (one Posse was very clear about liking Morgan Freeman way more than Megan Fox) and contrarian ideas (another Posse was so ticked off about hearing Green Day music in practically every summer movie trailer that they pronounced the band total sellouts).

So how did the picks pan out from this year's Posse, which was made up of a group of smart teenagers from Orange County? If you go just by box-office results, you could argue that the kids aren't exactly swamis. Their two favorite films this year, "Inception" and "Iron Man 2," were both huge hits, but they also really liked "Get Him to the Greek" and "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World," two comedies that haven't exactly set the world on fire. They get credit for loathing "Knight and Day," which tanked at the box office, but they also hated "Twilight Saga: Eclipse," which has made a zillion dollars around the world.

So maybe their prognostication abilities aren't so much better than the average Internet box-office geek. But I've discovered something more surprising. The Posse's picks are actually a very reliable barometer, not so much of how much dough movies will make, as--gasp!--what their reviews will be like.

The Posse graded 14 movies this year. Five of them had Rotten Tomatoes reviews of 70 or higher. The Posse had four of those five films in their Top 5. The only film that got remotely good reviews that finished near the bottom of the Posse's picks was "The Karate Kid," which they slagged off for the main reason they slag off most movies--because it looked like a movie that their little brothers or sisters would like. The two films that the Posse gave high grades to that haven't done well commercially--"Get Him to the Greek" and "Scott Pilgrim"--were both films that got good Rotten Tomatoes scores from critics.

Still, this is something of a head scratcher. How is it possible that a bunch of 16-year-olds from Orange County have essentially the same sensibility as a bunch of middle-aged movie critics? If you have a theory, I'd like to hear it. But my guess is that even though they are kids, they share a common bond with their critical elders--they are people who love movies. (It's why my survey is unscientific, since I obviously want kids who see a lot of movies as my test subjects.) So people who love movies turn out to have a lot in common when it comes to judging their strengths and weaknesses.

The Posse may bond in a far more generational way with someone like Michael Cera than I would, but they know hapless dreck when they see it, so there was just as much eye-rolling when they watched the trailer for "The A-Team" as there would've been if we'd had a scrum of highbrow critics in the room. It's nice to know that whether you're 16 or 60, if you really have a jones for movies, cool is still cool and schlock is still schlock.


Photo: Michael Cera at the London premiere of "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World." Credit: Suzanne Plunkett / Reuters